David Boudinot has been going on daily litter-picking walks through his neighbourhood of Fernwood since June. (David Boudinot/Twitter)

David Boudinot has been going on daily litter-picking walks through his neighbourhood of Fernwood since June. (David Boudinot/Twitter)

Fernwood ‘litter picker’ collects over 300 litres in under a month

David Boudinot collects two to four pailfuls each morning

A stolen laptop, drug paraphernalia, a flare gun, hundreds of masks, and thousands of cigarette butts are just some of the discarded items David Boudinot has found on his morning walks since June.

Acquisitions and electronic resources librarian at the University of Victoria, Boudinot has been researching plastic pollution – specifically nurdles – for years. He’s always been passionate about environmental protection. But, what really got him started as the ‘Fernwood litter picker’ was the tedium of working from home throughout the pandemic.

READ ALSO: Nurdles on the bill at UVic’s Ideafest

“I started getting up super early and going for walks in the neighbourhood and I was noticing a lot of trash,” Boudinot said. So, he got himself a bucket, gloves and an ergonomic litter picker from a local medical supply store – what they advertised as a “helping hand handi-grip pro reacher” – and began his two hour morning litter picking routine.

It turns out there are all kinds of interesting things hiding in litter heaps on the streets.

One time, Boudinot found a laptop and charging cord sticking out of a garbage bin. Upon returning home and powering it up, he discovered a phone number on the login screen, which led him to discover that the laptop had been stolen from a UVic student who depended on it for online learning.

“That was her crucial tool to accessing her classes,” Boudinot said, who was able to return the laptop to her.

Another time, he found a knife and when he called the police to come to collect it, they asked him to bring it by their headquarters.

“They told me to just drop it in the dropbox in the lobby,” Boudinot said, laughing as he recalled that it wouldn’t fit and he had to wait for an officer to come collect it off him. “They told me to have my hands visible since I was technically in possession of a weapon.”

Less than a week ago, Boudinot came across a couple of old black and white portraits in a box with teacups and ceramic soup spoons. After posting them to social media he was able to reunite them with the family of the woman in the photographs.

READ ALSO: Victoria woman reunited with lost family photos dating back to 1970s

What he finds the most of are cigarette butts, though. Disposable drink cups, single-use plastics and masks also top Boudinot’s most-found list.

READ ALSO: 1.56 billion face masks will pollute oceans this year, says Victoria researcher

When he finds drug paraphernalia he reports it to the city and disposes of it in a sharps container. When he finds bottles and cans he leaves them on the curb so someone can collect them.

For the majority of his litter picking time, Boudinot wasn’t keeping track of how much he collected. But, on Dec. 13 he started and in the less than a month since then and Jan. 5 he has amassed 360 litres of waste.

“By doing something, it feels a lot better than complaining about it. You can feel the sense of accomplishment.”

Boudinot emphasized that while he may be the Fernwood litter picker, he is far from the only one. People all over the world have committed themselves to cleaning up trash.

“If we take care of the earth, the earth will take care of us.”


Do you have a story tip? Email: jane.skrypnek@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

CommunityGarbageVictoria

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

SD62 bus driver Kerry Zado said it’s common to see drivers lose their patience and pass by his bus while he’s picking up students during the morning commute. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
School bus driver laments motorists who pass while red lights are flashing

All buses in Sooke School District outfitted with stop sign cameras

Metchosin Coun. Kyara Kahakauwila is stepping down as deputy mayor following controversy over her decision to travel to Mexico in December. (Black Press Media file photo)
Councillor steps down as deputy mayor of Metchosin after controversial trip to Mexico

Mayor hopeful mediation will help council get back to the business of community

Victoria police are seeking home surveillance video and witnesses following a prowling incident in Esquimalt Jan. 20. (Black Press Media file photo)
Esquimalt prowler removes air conditioner, peers into person’s home

VicPD is seeking video footage, witnesses following Jan. 20 incident

West Shore RCMP seized a stolen fish finder and drugs after searching a Colwood home Jan. 9. (Black Press Media file photo)
Search of Colwood home reveals stolen fish finder, drug trafficking evidence

West Shore RCMP suspect a 46-year-old woman is responsible

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

(Black Press Media file photo)
From arts to environment, nominate your West Shore hero

Nominations for the Goldstream Gazette’s Local Hero awards are open

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

Rod Bitten of Union Bay won $500,000 in the Lotto Max draw on Jan. 15. Photo supplied
Vancouver Island electrician gets shocking surprise with $500K Extra win

Rod Bitten has been hard at work with home renovations, which is… Continue reading

Oyster River Fire Rescue members were called out to a suspicious fire in Black Creek. Two vehicles parked at a private residence were destroyed by fire. Photo courtesy Oyster River Fire Rescue
Suspicious fire destroys two vehicles at Vancouver Island residence

Oyster River Fire Rescue personnel were dispatched to a fire at a… Continue reading

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

A suspect has been arrested in connection with fires at Drinkwater Elementary (pictured) and École Mount Prevost. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Arson suspect arrested after fires at Cowichan Valley schools

Drinkwater Elementary and Mount Prevost schools hit within a week

Most Read